When alumni shine

Let’s take some inspiration from two former pupils of Sidcot School – meet Maddy Hann and Pip Rush Jansen whose careers are flying high… here’s their story so far.

Maddy Hann

As a child Maddy was surrounded by creativity, hard work and ambition. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug from an early age, having been taken into work with her dad to sell snacks from a van and learning how to hand knit at just six years old, thanks to her grandma. Maddy relished those early knitting experiences: making special creations with her grandmother. Little did she know that her own brand, Edith, would one day be born.

Maddy thrived at Sidcot and really appreciated how she was encouraged to discover her own path, be who she wanted to be and find her own niche. She comments: “Sidcot has a great sense of community, it’s like being part of a family and there is a mutual respect and kindness among staff and students that you don’t see elsewhere.”

Textiles, Ceramics, Art and Fine Art lessons definitely took the top spot in terms of her favourite lessons at Sidcot. She was inspired to follow her passion by her Textiles and Art teachers Miss Ralph, Mrs Egan and Miss Pink. It was in these lessons that Maddy was able to take her knitting skills forward and to develop her own style and design concepts that would lead to her next steps.

Maddy graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a BA Honours in Fashion Knitwear and Knitted Textiles in 2021. After finishing her studies, she knew the city life wasn’t for her and that her hometown in Somerset was the perfect place to start pursuing her career in handcrafted knitwear.

Maddy launched her first collection Edith in 2021, which captures the comfort of being at home and the beauty of making something by hand. Her work includes timeless neutrals, cosy textures and comforting pieces that are designed to be treasured with every wear. Maddy’s final degree piece was featured at Graduate Fashion Week in December 2021 and her collection featured in the February edition of Vogue in January 2022, In Tatler in July 2023 and House of Interiors in August this year.

Maddy cites one of her greatest achievements as securing two A’s and a B at A level in Art, Fine Art and Textiles, and the joy of her grandma being there, to see her achieve those results.
Her pieces are knitted using sustainable yarns and all of the garments in her collection are carefully made using a hand-operated Dubied knitting machine by Maddy in her home studio. For more details on her collections see: edithknitwear.co.uk

Pip Rush Jansen

Creative Director of his own business, Arcadia Spectacular, Pip Rush Jansen has taken his stages and instillations across the globe. After Sidcot, Pip studied Sustainable Design at university, taking on festival and event work following a period of travel. Pip worked his way from the bottom up – from recycling (litter picking), to running an arts café, to making an archway entrance sculpture to then building an avenue of sculptures. From here he built a small stage, then a bigger one, each time adding new performance elements and flame effects. The stages are so popular that Arcadia now take them across the UK and worldwide.

Pip joined Sidcot funded by a bursary, as a boarder in the Sixth Form. He flourished creatively during his time in school, really valuing being part of a network of friends living and working together from all walks of life. He remembers the freedom of exploring the broad expanses of the Mendips during his time at Sidcot.

At school Pip enjoyed Art, DT and Music in equal measure. He embarked on an Art project with a difference and took a motorcycle apart in the DT department. By the end of term, he had rebuilt it, creating a sculpture in Art! Pip was inspired by his teachers at Sidcot including his Art teacher Mr Wallis,

Pip comments: “The teachers really did meet me on a level – the non-hierarchical Quaker way”.
One of Pip’s career highlights was taking the Arcadia stage to Perth, Australia, to work with an Aboriginal tribe, who resurrected an ancient ceremony with Arcadia that had been underground since the British colonised them in the 19th century.

The famous spider stage is regularly at Glastonbury and Pip and his team are the magicians behind the Alchemist’s Playground at Valley Fest. In the spirit of giving back, for the last few years Pip has invited Sidcot students and their partner Élan School’s Art and DT students to help behind the scenes with the set up for Glastonbury and teaching students welding skills.

This year Arcadia also launched a new glamping retreat in the Chew Valley; naturesspectacular.com

Sidcot School, Winscombe, North Somerset BS25 1PD. sidcot.org.uk